Gupta wedding demands: catering was a whites-only affair

They claim to be agents for transformation, but have the Gupta family been outed as closet racists?

It is alleged that white ladies were demanded as hostesses at the Sun City wedding of Vela Gupta and her husband Aaskash Jahajgarhia. Image: AFP / COURTESY OF THE GUPTA FAMILY / Handout

Last week an e-mail surfaced claiming Tony Gupta had called security guards “monkeys” in a fit of anger at their alleged incompetence.

Now, damning new e-mails in the Guptagate saga reveal several cases where the family specifically demanded that whites fill positions.

The e-mails, released by Scorpio and amaBhungane yesterday, confirm reports at the time that the family demanded staff at their Sun City family wedding be white. The wedding, in 2013, sparked anger when more than 100 guests landed a chartered plane at Waterkloof Air Force Base for niece Vega Gupta’s four-day extravaganza.

One of the accusations after the wedding was that black waiters had been ordered by a Gupta security officer to wash their hands before serving guests.

At the time, the Gupta family rejected allegations of racism “with contempt”.

According to Scorpio and amaBhungane, it was standard practice for the Gupta brothers to approve good-looking “hostesses” from modelling agencies before one of their functions. “Please see below the profiles of girls that have confirmed availability,” read an e-mail from an agency in August 2014. “I need to get more white ladies.”

In February 2013, two months before the Sun City wedding, Heilbron Hospitality agency sent an e-mail quote for staff: “Heilbron … confirms the provision of all Caucasian staff, with the majority of the waiters and a few of the butlers being female staff.”

Tony Gupta accused of calling security guards ‘monkeys’

According to Scorpio and Amabungane, Tony Gupta replied the same day: “Please clarify total staff gender and race …”

A Heilbron employee replies: “ALL staff are white! I included this point in the final quote.”

A Heilbron employee replies: “ALL staff are white! I included this point in the final quote.”

It was not just butlers and waiters at the wedding that the Guptas wanted to be white women. An e-mail from the manager of the Gatsby Spa at Sun City to Sahara CEO Ashu Chawla on April 22 2013 implies he had asked the spa to hire whites for the event: “We have come to the conclusion that it would be in neither of our best interests to bring in part-time white staff for your very important guests.”

Another example of racism involved job specifications for a “good office admin”. An e-mail Tegeta director Ankur Sharma wrote to Chawla in October 2012 stated the mining company needed to recruit a “senior old white lady with good experience”.

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